What's a stain remover anyway? Laundry detergent in a spray bottle? Consumer Reports ran lab tests to find out. The results: Only one laundry stain remover from our tests gets rid of stains better than everyday liquid detergent: OxiClean MaxForce.
The other five spray-on laundry stain removers we tested, from Shout, Spray n’ Wash, and OxiClean (a different formula from the MaxForce) couldn't match the best liquid detergents from our ratings for getting rid of the 14 stains in our tests.
“Prewash stain removers are concentrated and designed to go directly on the stains," says Rico de Paz, CR's chemist who performs these tests. "Detergents, on the other hand, mix in with lots of water to clean, and the water dilutes the stain-removing power. But if you apply a dab of detergent to the stain before washing and let it sit, the detergent alone can remove stains.”
That's just what we did with the two detergents we included in our tests. The Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release and Persil ProClean Stain Fighter detergents we used to pretreat stains came close enough to the cleaning power of the OxiClean MaxForce that some people might want to use these detergents to pretreat stains and wash your laundry.
Here's how five laundry stain removers from our tests stack up against the top-performing OxiClean MaxForce. You'll also find details on how the Tide and Persil detergents handle stains, too. Prices listed below are per bottle (some might be for a multipack). In our ratings, you can find our comparative pricing: per ounce for stain removers and per load for detergents.
For detailed test results, see our laundry stain remover ratings.